8 high-achievers get real about addressing better mores and lesser evils, tracked their progress for 1 month and shared how they sustained these personal goals.

There’s a saying that suggests 21 days is the sweet spot to form a new habit. Well-meaning resolutions, routines, personal projects make for a fulfilling start but hurdles are inescapable. That being said, we’ve long admired the multi-hyphenated personalities who excel at various endeavours so we gave them a 30-day goal-setting challenge. 8 individuals from all walks of life rose to the challenge and shared their experience on this project of self-discovery.

1 / 8

Dr Renard Siew, sustainability advisor at Sime Darby

More of…

Being in the moment and just doing what makes me happy. Having more ‘me-time’ would be great!

Less of…

Rushing for deadlines and biting off more than I can chew.

The game-plan

Install Happify – I came across this cool app which sends you daily doses of ‘happy’ messages/ tips that help reduce stress and anxiety.

Scheduling 30 minutes daily each morning, meditating or spending time outdoors.

I’ve been inspired by the KonMari method and with slight modification, those principles can be applied to declutter not just my physical space but also prioritising work that makes me happy. This helps me focus and be more present in the moment. Watch out Marie Kondo, the ‘Renard-o’ method coming your way!

How I’m overcoming the obstacles

Sharing my goals with a group of close friends is very helpful. I call them my personal Board of Directors (B.O.D.).  Occasionally, we’ll spend time outdoors during the weekend, either hiking or jungle trekking during weekends and we’ll check up and hold each other accountable for respective resolutions.

Reflections of my progress

I would rate myself a 4 or of 5: I’ve been consistently sticking to my game-plan.

See also:Bright Young Things: Dr Renard Siew

2 / 8

Mark Choo, entrepreneur & fitness startup founder

More of…

Quality, restful sleep.

Less of…

Worrying about things beyond my control.

The game-plan

Set a fixed wind-down routine such as turning off my phone and not responding to work messages after 12am. Have the room nice and cool and taking 5 minutes to reflect on the day, write down what needs to be done in the morning. The goal is to ease my mind and keep the thoughts from running throughout the night.

How I started

Have dinner earlier to prevent late nights, get productive by setting aside an hour and a half in the morning before work to reply all work-related communications and receive response just as I arrive at office. Learning to say 'no' to going out (very difficult), listening to my body when its tired, going snowboarding in February to have a change of environment.

My progress

Some good nights, some bad. It’s tough to stop working late at night as those are the most peaceful times to focus. Still lots of room for improvement but optimistic that in time, I’ll find a work-life balance, peace of mind and quality sleep.

See also: Brian and Mark Choo are men on a mission

3 / 8

Azran Osman-Rani, founder & CEO of Naluri

More of…

Uninterrupted, scheduled 2 hour blocks of time twice a week to think, reflect, and ideate.

Less of…

Animal-based foods.

My game-plan

Personal scheduled 'restrospective' sessions every 30 days, to reflect on what's working, what's not, and what one new idea to try in the next 30 days.

How I make it work

Be a feedback junkie. Keep trying different approaches and shamelessly ask for feedback on how I can do better.

Tracking my progress

I got my first book published and printed end of January. It’s a tangible output from my effort last year to write it and it feels good to get the first ‘done’ checked off for the year.

See also: 7 Management Tips From The Founder of Malaysia's Naluri, Azran Osman-Rani

4 / 8

Sasibai Kimis, founder of Earth Heir

More of…

Quiet time: meaningful reflection periods to nourish and grow. More of forgiveness to the others and self.

Less of…

Social media. Less reacting and more responding.

My game-plan

With another app to monitor time spent on other apps! On a more serious note, I’m trying to be more conscious of my responses to others and taking time each day for deep reflection.

Addressing the obstacles

I want to be more focussed on kindness and doing my best. To not be stuck to a path but open up new meandering ones leading to unexpected goals.

My journey so far

Quiet reflection time is still a challenge but social media has less of an influence on my time. Given the difficult period in my life right now, I’m happy for the chance to wake up, feel the love from family and friends, and go to work, for tomorrow is not guaranteed.

See also: Sasibai Kimis Of Earth Heir: The Bigger Cause Behind Her Ethical Fashion Business

5 / 8

Geraldine Dreiser, vice president of marketing of YTL Hotels

More of…

Quality time with family, building relationships, reading, journaling and sleeping early.

Less of…

Screen time and social media.

The game-plan

More family trips and planning ahead to prioritise time with loved ones. Not forgetting me-time!

How I overcome the hurdles

It sounds simplistic but charging my phone outside the bedroom to remove online distractions at night is a great way to dial back on screen time and wind down before bedtime. Also, scheduling in regular time slots in my calendar for family and friends ensure a balance between the important relationships in my life.

Summing up my progress

Keeping the phone away from the bedside is really effective! Journalling may be old-school but refreshingly good for the soul to pen down thoughts, verses and meditate on God’s word.

See also: Hotelier Geraldine Dreiser On Meaningful Work, Motherhood And Strength With Lancôme

6 / 8

Donovan Ng, Deputy CEO of Malayan Traders Capital (MTC) Asset Management

More of…

A balanced work-life to ensure I make the right choices without time wasted. Placing myself in more peaceful and calm environments to ensure the mind is relaxed and focussed, making for headspace in powerful decision-making for personal and business interests.

Less of…

Pleasing everyone as Mr Nice Guy and also less of being involved in confrontational situations which attract more negativity.

The game-plan…

Being extremely honest with yourself first, then understanding what the priorities are to achieve a happy and healthy lifestyle. Most importantly, it’s about making short-term decisions and sacrifices to get closer to your ultimate goal.

How I’m keeping up 

By reminding myself when I wake up what makes me happy and making sure to reflect at the end of the day or before I sleep, the choices and decisions I made has some positive impact. 

Looking back on my progress

It’s tough! Only 30 days in but so far so good. It’s a game-changer when you’re naturally honest and transparent with yourself. The choices you’ve made in the near term can seem negative, but in the long run, it’ll bring more joy and pleasure.

See also: How 8 Debonair Gents Modernise Their Classic Black Tie Looks

7 / 8

Elizabeth Thea, franchise owner of Coca Restaurant Malaysia

More of...

Getting out of my comfort zone by constantly challenging myself to do more, focussing on self-improvement and working towards my personal goals. 

Less of…

Being afraid to take risk in life, moving away from what is known to be the ‘safe environment’.

The game-plan

To evaluate my strengths and weaknesses and taking the constructive approach of exploring the unfamiliar or unknown, then go beyond my boundaries. I can then use these findings to navigate me through obstacles to achieve my objectives.

I tell myself this… 

I really like the Roy Bennett quote: ‘The one who fails and gets up is stronger than the one who never tried. Do not fear failure but rather fear not trying’. This resonates with me and keeps the positive-affirmation going.

What I learned

Challenging yourself is never easy because you don’t know your limits. I don’t know what to expect in this ever-changing journey but one thing’s for sure, I am enjoying it! All these would never be possible without support from family and my closest friends.

See also: 11 Malaysian Power Couples Give Tips On Striking A Successful Work-Life Balance With Your Partner

8 / 8

Diana Moggie, entrepreneur of Razak Luxe Decor & Lagenda Weddings

More of...

Drinking water! I have a bad habit of not drinking enough water to pull me through the day. I started drinking straight out of bottles so it’s easier to keep track of how much more water I need to drink.

Less of...

Less of holding on to unnecessary items. I’m trying to go for the whole minimalist lifestyle. My husband and I have just moved into our new home and we still have a lot of possessions to go through!

The game-plan...

To ‘Marie Kondo’ our home, which I have already started. We are almost done with phase 1; clothes. Looking forward to books and papers. Not.

How I’m pulling through

I have to put full focus and patience into working on our home. I’m one of those to gives up easily when I see too much clutter because I wouldn’t know where and how to start. Having one of Marie Kondo’s episodes playing on the telly while I spring clean helps!

Summing up my 30-day challenge

So far so good! I’m drinking a lot more water, it helps a lot with my workouts and my mood. As for spring cleaning we’re getting somewhere! I feel like I’ve learned to let go more easily and that I have a lot of weight lifted off my shoulders. Finally, my home is coming together.

See also: Get To Know The 9 Wedding Planners Behind The Most Stunning, High Profile ‘I Dos’ In KL